Simon Moullier sounds like a pretty old soul for someone only releasing his debut. At the same time, even more impressively, it is a relentlessly playful one, with an equal love for the old and new. One might think an instrument as established as the vibraphone only has so much potential to be taken to new places. With a mind as sharp as his hands, though, Moullier puts that familiar sound in a world-spanning musical context which makes everything both familiar and fresh.
On Spirit Song, the leader delights in criss-crossing sounds and feels of all kinds, particularly things that might not obviously go together. It feels expansive yet intimate, allowing jazzy chords and structures to settle over complex African-based rhythmic patterns and circular forms rooted in Asia. The vibes' cool metal tone is complemented in spots by the resonant wood of its Guinean counterpart, the balafon. The almost entirely analogue sound gets the lightest dash of synth in spots to add just a touch of futuristic spaceyness. While Moullier can get quite energetic bashing the plates, his fleet lines are always silky-smooth and the sound continually hovers close to dreamy, if not otherworldly.
Though there are familiar elements all over it, this outing never wants to simply stay rooted in one obvious spot. When they spin a sunny samba take on "I'll Remember April," it still leans quirkily and drifts into something spacy before it is over. The mantric patterns of "Acceptance" or "What If" are joined by jaunty piano and rich-toned sax which playfully romp without falling out of their intricate steps. Moullier's pieces paint in a pretty range of impressionistic colors, and his crew is equally happy to fill it all in without needing obvious lines to shade between. From intricate subtle trance to dreamy atmospheres and swinging bebop, the spirit of Spirit Song is an all-inclusive one, happy to roam absolutely anywhere and make something beautiful out of whatever it finds.
Spirit Song; Acceptance; Wind Chaser; I'll Remember April; Beings of Light; Prophecy; What if;
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